Cliff Wiltshire has been recognized by the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce as its Businessperson of the Year -- but then again, he's recognized by a lot of people around the neighborhood.
A longtime writer and editor, Wiltshire, 50, spent 25 years with Suburban News Publications, editing The Booster and other weekly newspapers; he penned a weekly column as well.
In September, he launched the monthly Clintonville Spotlight publication.
He said going out on his own after three decades of working for someone else was a significant financial risk, especially at an age when many of his peers are counting down to retirement.
"My son joked that I'm more like the business person of the half-year," Wiltshire said. "I definitely was surprised and shocked. I've never thought of myself as a business person. All those years of journalism, you don't think about the business that much -- you're just trying to do your job."
Born and raised in Connecticut, Wiltshire settled in Columbus after graduating from Muskingum College in 1986. He moved to Clintonville in 1991 with his wife, Carla, primarily because the neighborhood was convenient to their employers and the price was right.
"You're young, you're married, you're looking for a good deal," he said. "We had no idea Clintonville was so special, but we quickly realized that it you're going to be in Columbus, this is definitely where you want to be."
The couple embraced their new community and raised two children -- Cliff Jr., 25, and Rachel, 23 -- while Wiltshire worked for Suburban News Publications as a reporter and editor, helping to tell the stories of his Clintonville neighbors.
"There are 30,000 people who live here and everybody's got a story to tell," he said.
Judy Robinson nominated Wiltshire for the chamber's award. She has worked with him through numerous organizations and said he has a long history of championing Clintonville.
After leaving SNP, Wiltshire spent five years at the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, most recently serving as development and marketing director.
"Cliff's dedication is key. We know his sincerity and we know his heart," Robinson said. "He has always found a use for everything, whether it was things I donated to the CRC or his ability to brighten someone's day with his talents or his smile.
"I think he sees wealth in a much different way: through doing what he loves and helping people," Robinson said. "He supports everything that goes on in Clintonville. He exudes Clintonville."
Wiltshire credits the support of his family and community for having faith in him. A member of Maple Grove United Methodist Church for about five years, he has been instrumental in the church's tween fellowship group and serves on the board of trustees.
His unifying presence is "one of his greatest gifts," said the Rev. Glenn Schwerdtfeger, Maple Grove's pastor.
"A wide range of people very quickly came to trust Cliff and look to him for guidance. He has the type of impact that usually comes with someone who has been a member for a much longer time," Schwerdtfeger said. "The kids just adore him. Every pastor wishes they had a Cliff in their congregation."
Wiltshire has worked with the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce in a variety of ways since its founding in 1995, said Jenny Smith, chamber president. He helped to start the Slice of Clintonville pizza competition and previously served on the committee charged with planning and executing Celebrate Clintonville, the event at which he will be honored this month.
"He is a vital part of our organization and an extremely talented person," Smith said. "I don't know anyone who is a better writer. I don't think anyone is more deserving of this award."
Starting a newspaper in the era of "fake news" was "nerve-wracking" but necessary, Wiltshire said.
"I felt compelled -- called," he said. "I believe in the idea of a calling in our lives. It was time for me to do something like this in the community.
"What we're doing here in Clintonville is an effort to highlight the good going on. To take people's stories and share them is such a valuable commodity."
Wiltshire said he hopes to write for as long as he has readers.
"There's always going to be an interest. People will always want to know what's going on in their community, to know the stories of their neighbors," he said. "I continue to get inspired by other business owners in Clintonville. It's such a neat area, to see these other small businesses pop up where it's just people following a passion of theirs."
Wiltshire will be honored alongside the Business of the Year, J.R. Scott Insurance Agency, and the ThisWeek Booster Volunteer of the Year as part of the 18th annual Celebrate Clintonville awards, set Feb. 22 at the Clintonville Woman's Club.
Recent Businessperson of the Year winners include Jennifer Williams and Scott Bowman of Weiland's Market; Kevin Johnson of Music Go Round; Addie Davis-Holsinger of Re/Max Capital Center; Jessica Kehn of Artisan Dance Studio; and Kristen Steinhausser of the woman's club.